In a bid to popularize coffee cultivation, the Himachal Pradesh government is exploring all the possibilities. With Kangra district already known for tea cultivation, now the state is planning to promote coffee farming to boost the local economy.
Tea industry of Himachal Pradesh is 161 years old. There were around 500 tea growers in Kangra district with average land-holding of 25 hectares in 1947, but today there are 5,800 tea growers with average land-holdings of 10-15 kanals. Of this, only 15-20 planters fall in the category of big growers. Currently, 2,300 hectare area is under tea cultivation. After tea, now coffee is likely to be the new source of income for farmers of the state.
"There is a potential for coffee cultivation in Kangra, Mandi, Una and Bilaspur districts. During 2014-15, coffee demonstration trials will be carried out in these districts under the technical guidance of Coffee Board," according to a state government official. The source also confirmed that a Coffee Board team has already surveyed prospective areas.
For the people of Himachal Pradesh, agriculture is the mainstay and has an important role in the economy of farmers. Efforts are afoot to make the hill state self-sufficient in agriculture production and also to improve the economy of farmers, the official added.
As per the sources, agriculture and allied sectors accounts for 30% of the gross state domestic product. It provides direct employment to about 71% of the main working population. Rs 384 crore is being spent on agriculture sector this financial year.
Of the total geographical area of 55.67 lakh hectares, the area of operational holding is about 9.68 lakh hectares and is operated by 9.33 lakh farmers. The average holding size comes to 1.04 hectares. Distribution of land holdings according to 2005-06 agriculture census shows that 87.03% of the total holdings are of small and marginal farmers. About 12.54% of holdings are owned by semi-medium/medium farmers and only 0.43% by large farmers.